Cover Story: The Mobile Technology Revolution

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The mobility craze has taken bulky peripherals off the desktop and put them into the hands of smartphone- and tablet-wielding professionals. Not only that, it has made cloud-connected, mobile-aware peripherals ubiquitous.

Among the red-hot peripherals are the Visioneer Mobility Color Cordless Scanner for Android-based smartphones and tablets; the Motorola CS3000 bar-code scanning device, which fits into a shirt pocket; Kensington’s Keyfolio keyboard for iPad; and Cloud Engines’ Pogoplug personal cloud device.

But no vendor has done more to bring the power of peripherals to mobile devices than HP, which has an installed base of more than 5.6 million cloud-aware, Web-connected printers. And HP has introduced AirPrint in conjunction with Apple so users can print from any Apple smartphone or tablet to cloud-aware HP printers.

Keith Moore, HP fellow and chief technologist, said the cloud-aware printer movement is simply one of the breakthroughs that completely changes the printer market every five years. “This round of transformation is occurring around mobility,” he said. “There are two Wild Wests out there, one is the mobile client and the other is cloud content. There are a bunch of people who no longer have laptops. They are living with smartphones and now we’re seeing tablets enter that space.” Those users want to print with the “printer they are standing next to, not necessarily to the one in the office or the home,” said Moore. That’s where HP’s ePrint comes into play. “If you can e-mail it, we can print it,” he said.

The ability to interact seamlessly within the cloud is at the heart of startup Cloud Engines’ Pogoplug, which lets users create their own “personal cloud,” providing seamless access to content through the Web. Cloud Engines also has a small-business product, Pogoplug Biz, aimed at providing secure access to content in the Web for the SOHO market.

“This concept of private cloud is becoming top of mind with people,” said Cloud Engines President and CEO Daniel Putterman. “Our breakthrough is this is the first online, fully secure accessible product that sets up in 60 seconds.”

Meanwhile, Visioneer once and for all makes scanning from bulky scanners connected to USB ports on desktops or laptops a bad memory. With the Visioneer Cordless Scanner, a real estate agent can now scan a signed offer document in the field to a smartphone or a tablet. The Scanner can also upload documents wirelessly with a Wi-Fi card into the cloud, said John Capurso, vice president of marketing. “There are so many applications we haven’t even thought of,” he said. “This has so much potential they will find applications that make this more valuable. The core product and technology is ready to go.”

—Steven Burke

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